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NSF or NDSEG?


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I was very lucky and was offered both the NSF and the NDSEG this year. I am a graduating Bachelor in Math / Physics and enrolling in a Ph.D. Physics program in the fall.

Many people have asked this question before, but it seems this year the NDSEG is significantly more than it has been in the past, so here are the details:

 

NSF

  • $34,000/year for three years ($2,833/month)
  • Deferable
  • Health insurance provided by school
  • Up to $12,000 provided for tuition

NDSEG

  • $38,400/year for three years ($3,200/month)
  • NON-deferable
  • Up to $1,200 in health insurance
  • $5000 travel allowance (not per year, this is for the total tenure)
  • Full tuition and fees covered. Paid directly to the school.

 

I have also accepted a fellowship from my university that will cover my first and fifth years, though I've been told I can defer it to cover my fourth and fifth instead, so it shouldn't conflict with the NSF. In regards to prestige, though the NSF is more well-known, I've been informed by my former supervisor that hire-by-name is very common with NDSEG at research labs, much moreso than with NSF.

I'm leaning heavily towards NDSEG, but just want to hear some opinions to make sure I'm not missing something.

 

Thanks!

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I'm in the same boat as you pdcook. 

One other thing to consider is that if you choose NDSEG, 

Internship restrictions

"Fellows may be allowed to participate in internships at DoD facilities and non-DoD facilities that
are conducting research relevant to the fellow’s program of study. These internships will not be
grounds to request a deferral of the fellowship award. For summer internships, they may be
completed for one or more periods when the fellow's graduate institution does not offer an
appropriate program during the summer months, or when invited by a DoD agency to perform
research. While participating in an internship, the fellow must continue to be academically enrolled
and progressing towards their degree. Internships at non-DoD facilities will require coordination
and prior written approval from the sponsoring DoD agency and the COR."

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8 hours ago, SFS said:

I'm in the same boat as you pdcook. 

One other thing to consider is that if you choose NDSEG, 

Internship restrictions

"Fellows may be allowed to participate in internships at DoD facilities and non-DoD facilities that
are conducting research relevant to the fellow’s program of study. These internships will not be
grounds to request a deferral of the fellowship award. For summer internships, they may be
completed for one or more periods when the fellow's graduate institution does not offer an
appropriate program during the summer months, or when invited by a DoD agency to perform
research. While participating in an internship, the fellow must continue to be academically enrolled
and progressing towards their degree. Internships at non-DoD facilities will require coordination
and prior written approval from the sponsoring DoD agency and the COR."

I wasn't awarded the NSF but I want to mention a couple things:

- Do you have an idea of who your advisor might be? If so, you may want to ask them about their general policy re:internships. I've come across many professors, mine included, who don't allow or encourage their students to have internships. Specially the first couple of years. So you might want to ask them as this may eliminate the internship issue.

- Depending on the circles you run (or will be running) in the NDSEG may carry more prestige. It certainly does in mine, though my work since UG (and in industry) has been very heavily defense oriented. 

- Do you know where the conferences most relevant to your work are held? Mine are abroad about 80% of the time so having extra funds for travel (even if it's one time) is a bonus. 

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20 hours ago, 3st3rb said:

I wasn't awarded the NSF but I want to mention a couple things:

- Do you have an idea of who your advisor might be? If so, you may want to ask them about their general policy re:internships. I've come across many professors, mine included, who don't allow or encourage their students to have internships. Specially the first couple of years. So you might want to ask them as this may eliminate the internship issue.

- Depending on the circles you run (or will be running) in the NDSEG may carry more prestige. It certainly does in mine, though my work since UG (and in industry) has been very heavily defense oriented. 

- Do you know where the conferences most relevant to your work are held? Mine are abroad about 80% of the time so having extra funds for travel (even if it's one time) is a bonus. 

Brilliant points. I was awarded another fellowship directly from my university that outright prohibits internships, so I wasn't planning on doing any anyways. I will email my perspective advisor nonetheless.

My work has been very heavily defense so far, and I think it will continue to be, so NDSEG makes more sense for me maybe.

Conferences most relevant to me are mostly in the US, but in very expensive places. However, I've been told that my department will pay for most conference travel already, so I might not need the travel allowance, though it would be nice.

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